Another absolutely insane lightweight title fight takes place this month at UFC 294 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 21st when Islam Makhachev defends his championship against Charles Oliveira.
The 155-pound championship will be on the line as the two consensus best lightweight fighters in the world go head-to-head as the headliner in a highly-anticipated rematch from the same event last year.
We'll take a look at the main event and provide you with our best free UFC picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while watching an incredible fight card.
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UFC 280 Information
- Saturday, October 21st, 2023
- Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Main card starts 2pm ET
- Lightweight (155-pounds) world championship bout
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev
This fight is going to be absolutely crazy and is arguably one of the very best the company has ever put on between two fighters, with so many split between who is going to come out on top.
Oliveira lost the title to Makhachev in their first bout back at UFC 280 one year ago, and has since defeated Beneil Dariush via first-round knockout at UFC 289 to earn himself the number one contender spot once again.
That took him to 12 wins in his last 13 fights, having initially won the title at UFC 262 when he KO'd Michael Chandler at the start of the second round, before submitting Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 in the third round of their bout to cement himself as the best in the world. He currently has a professional record of 34-9, with 21 wins by submission.
Makhachev on the other hand is on a sensational 12-fight win streak, but the names on his list are a little less impressive. He submitted Drew Dober at UFC 259 and then Thiago Moises in his first main event, before a staple win over Dan Hooker at UFC 267 and Bobby Green.
He then defeated Oliveira to claim the title before securing a controversial decision win over Alexander Volkanovski in Australia last time out at UFC 284 in his first title defense. He has a professional record of 24-1, with 11 submission wins in his career to date.
Route to Victory
This is going to be an exceptional fight stylistically between two guys who are used to dominating fights wherever they go, but especially on the ground.
Oliveira is the greatest submission artist in UFC history, with 16 wins via tap-out during his run in the big time. However that ground game has allowed him to sharpen his tools on the feet and he has become a terrifying striker too, with legitimate knockout power and nasty kicks and knees too.
Makhachev on the other hand is a sambo specialist who is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC today, and has taken over his former teammate and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov's legacy as the best lightweight in the world.
Makhachev's game is far more reliant on getting the fight to the ground than Oliveira's, with his suffocating style meaning once the fight goes to the mat it tends to stay there and he is able to progress positions and do damage to his opponent until he claims victory.
We saw in the first fight though that Makhachev is more than willing to strike with Oliveira, with a knockdown leading to the finish and he's not afraid to engage in the grappling too which sees him have a real edge in this match-up. But Oliveira is better now than he was and will know what to expect in both departments so should game plan for it.
Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.
UFC Picks - Makhachev to retain
Stopping Makhachev will be insanely difficult to do and there is no blueprint to it, because nobody was able to stop his coach Nurmagomedov either.
But if anyone is capable of doing it, it's the uncrowned champ. His guard is incredibly active, with submissions for days and violent elbows too. But there is every chance that Makhachev just holds him down and controls the fight, taking little risks and winding down the clock from the very start.
The Dagestani also showed that he can be aggressive on the ground and look to advance position successfully, so Oliveira will likely be more measured in his approach this time around.
While Oliveira will want to keep it standing more, Makhachev will be more confident in his ground game after submitting "Do Bronx" last time out and could be more aggressive. It's likely that his game plan will be unchanged for the Brazilian, but he will need to stay sharp.
Another finish shouldn't be written off at all, but the more likely turn out this time around is a dominant and controlled version of Makhachev ensures there is no doubt by winning all five rounds and making a statement as the number one lightweight in the world.
Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.